Introduction

Situated northeast of Australia, the mountainous Solomon Island chain stands out boldly against the crystal blue waters of the Pacific, its verdant forested peaks casting splendid shadows on the coral atolls far below. Composed of 992 islands, the majority of which remain uninhabited, the landmass of the Solomon Islands archipelago spans over 10,000 miles and boasts both compelling scenery and an equally captivating historical background. Though the six largest islands, Choiseul, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, Malaita and Makira, now offer tourists accommodations and comparatively upscale dining experiences, many of the smaller islands continue to support indigenous tribes largely isolated from the outside world.

History

Archaeologists credit the settlement of Solomon Islands to a migration of Southeast Asians between 4,000 - 5,000 years ago and to a later influx of Polynesians. In the 16th century, the Islands drew the attention of numerous European states, eventually divided between the Spanish, Dutch, French, Germans and British. By 1900, the British had acquired the majority of the Solomon Islands, but cultural reverberations from previous empires continued to shape the archipelago. Later in the century, the Solomon Islands were a key battleground in World War II, the mountainous terrain and dense jungles complicating troop movement and leading to some of the most brutal fighting of the war.

Famous Attractions

The ghosts of WWII and the presence of local tribes make visiting the now-independent Solomon Islands the equivalent of an excursion back in time. Not only are the islands exploding with rainforests and coral atolls, but WWII relics are prominent everywhere. The National Museum, Cultural Centre, and National Art Gallery all offer visitors an in-depth look at the history of Solomon Islands. For a truly haunting experience, travelers are invited to view the eerie headhunting shrine at Skull Island, a skillfully chiseled container housing the skulls of local village chiefs.

Nightlife

Many of the larger hotels, such as Gizo Hotel and Honiara Hotel, schedule dance performances for guests to take in during the evening. While viewing the Gilbertese traditional dancing nights in Gizo, visitors are likely to find plenty to eat, drink, and discuss as they unwind and allow the ambiance to transport them back to a simpler time. King Solomon Hotel boasts two oft-frequented bars, a stunning waterfall pool and a karaoke pizza lounge. Native musicians and dancers entertain all across the main islands, where the locally brewed Solbrew beer is the perfect accompaniment to any evening adventure.

Cuisine

Due to the heavy culinary influence from various European and Asian occupiers, the cuisine on Solomon Islands is highly varied, ranging from fettuccine and steak to more traditional Southeast Asian cuisine. The seafood on Solomon Islands is exceptional, and much of the produce is locally grown. For a truly unique dining experience, one can venture to Rain Tree Cafe in Honiara. Set in the midst of the rainforest using neighboring trees as decorative props, the smell of the famous Solomon Islands wood-fired pizza wafts through the forest. The menu's delightful offerings are further accentuated by the unparalleled experience of dining within the ever-lush forest.